This is a literal exercise. The use of color is a powerful tool to convey meaning and mood to the reader without having to come out and say everything. Color influences our perception of everything we experience, and writing is a visual medium in that it creates pictures in the reader’s mind of the story enfolding. Enhancing this picture with color cues can lend a great deal to the narrative, providing psychological and emotional nuance. And, it’s fun to play with.
Colors have personal meaning—and this is how I see some of them:
Red = passion, blood, excitement
Blue= sky, water, relaxation, openness
Green=spring, renewal, outdoors
Yellow= happiness, childhood, innocence
Orange = warmth, sunset, desert
Purple = rich, deep, exotic (many fruits are purple)
White = Empty, bland, bright; in painting, white is the absence of all color
Black = Rich, dark, full (in painting, black is the presence of all color)
You can create your own definitions, using a basis in fine art painting or even your local Sherwin Williams (my favorite house paint store) to help you. These webpages will help you to explore it a little more detail:
For now we are focusing on a simple writing exercise:
REMEMBER: TAKE ONLY 5 MINUTES TO DO THE WRITING!
Exercise # 2: Think of a color, then describe an opening scene in 3-5 sentences, mentioning only that one color.
Now describe the same scene again, twice more, using different colors. See how it changes the mood and intent of the character and the writing as a whole.
EXAMPLE: Color can become a symbol of anything you want it to be. You simply have to introduce it, and then establish in the pages what it signifies, so the reader begins to see it as you intended. You can also use established color concepts to enhance your meaning without even having to say anything more. Read the examples below, where the color chosen informs the intent of the action and the character of Jeffrey: same action, same character, same time and day, but a different impression of where things are going.
- The mid-afternoon sun was slanting orange rays of light on the blistering hot road as Jeffrey scuffed toward his house. The car had broken down nearly two miles away, with very little between there and here, giving him nothing but time to think about what he had said to Katie this morning. She was not likely to be in a forgiving mood, and with each step he grew more irritated at the idea of another argument.
- As Jeffrey walked down the road towards home, he thought of Katie, sitting at home waiting for him. He had called her when the car broke down, and she responded monosyllabically, still upset by the names he had called her this morning, but too decent to not answer him at all. Her relative inability to hold a grudge was one of her best features, he thought, enjoying the mild afternoon breeze. That, and the way she filled out that cute little white bikini.
- Jeffrey moved steadily down the road toward home, having abandoned the car nearly two miles back, wondering if Katie would be waiting for him. He had said terrible things to her this morning, tossing criticisms over his shoulder as he hurried out toward his all-important job—which now seemed far less important. He wanted only to get back to her, to fix what he had broken and hope he could make her smile again. He hurried toward the traffic light in the distance, just a block from their house, watching it change colors three times as he approached, and like a sign, it flicked to green just as he reached the curb.
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